Hoosier political ties run deep for Trump’s education secretary pick

Jan 16, 2017 by

Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary has deep ties to Indiana’s largest-in-the-nation private school voucher program, having played an influential role in its development and in routing millions of dollars in campaign contributions and school choice support to the state.

Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and former chair of school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, has risen on the national scene as a champion of school reform. But many public school advocates view her as a controversial choice to lead the federal education department because of her staunch support for charter schools and vouchers.

That support has roots in Indiana, with DeVos’ organization being a “very active player” in building the state’s voucher program in 2011, said Fred Klipsch, whose school choice network now under the name of Institute for Quality Education and its political arm Hoosiers for Quality Education advocated for the law. Indiana’s program allows nearly 33,000 low- to middle-income families to use taxpayer dollars to attend private school.

DeVos’ family and organizations provided at least $2.5 million in donations to Hoosier politicians since 2004, according to Indiana’s campaign finance database. That includes $95,000 last year to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s campaign. Her influence in the state, paired with her selection by Trump, has given new prominence to Indiana’s program that some education observers expect to serve as a national model.

Source: Hoosier political ties run deep for Trump’s education secretary pick

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